Kirby Smart, Bulldogs preview preseason camp
Connect with us

UGA Football

Kirby Smart, Bulldogs preview preseason camp

Kirby Smart
Photo: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ATHENS, Ga. – University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, along with several players, met with media on Friday to preview fall camp. Below are comments from Friday’s media session.

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Comments…

“Welcome, guys.  Talking season is over, it’s time to do more.  We’ve had a really good conditioning offseason session, some really good bars hit from a mat standpoint in summer conditioning.  I want to give a lot of credit to Scott Sinclair and his staff.  They do tireless work during the summer.  We don’t get to see a lot of it because our players are on a little different schedule, but our guys have been excited to get started for camp and Scott’s staff did a great job of working with them.  It is very time intensive.  Sometimes they have to have four and five different workouts a day with different groups, so they’re repeating the same workouts. Our strength staff is by far the best in the country, in my opinion, at what they do. I am excited for them and excited to get started. With that, I will open it up.”

On what he looks for out of the guys now, especially the defense…
“Well, I think when you think about training camp or preseason camp for us, it’s about creating an identity.

So we are trying to get effort, toughness, all those intangibles. You can’t get all those in one day. We can’t go out there today and create a lot of toughness by how we hit people because we don’t have pads on. But the biggest thing we’re trying to do is to be the best conditioned team in the country, most disciplined team in the country and defensively we are trying to improve our pass rush and a lot of other areas. But I’m excited about seeing those guys. We have a lot of competition on defense, it’s going to be wide open.”

On what the secondary is going to have to do to get revamped….

“You’d say revamped. I wouldn’t say revamped. I feel like we’ve got a lot of guys coming back that have played a lot of snaps. I’m excited about those guys. When you look at it, the group we went out there in the Bowl game with is the group we’re playing with now.

So a lot of those guys have gained experience. We have some really good competition in that room, so I’m excited about those guys. They are a year older. We are really young I felt like last year in the secondary, and now this year we have more experienced players and the best players are going to get to play.”

On freshman D’Wan Mathis’s ability to participate in fall camp after injury…

D’Wan is not fully cleared, but D’Wan is able to do passing drills, individual drills. Things where we know that he can be safe and not take a hit and not risk injury. So still don’t know when he’s going to be fully cleared but I’m excited to see him go out and work today. He gets to do seven-on-seven, individual drills. He gets to do a lot of things.

On the offensive line, specifically Deontrey Hill…

“Deontrey has done a great job. He’s helped reshape his body from a strength standpoint. His weight hasn’t changed a lot but his body fat has come down. We’ve seen quickness in his ability to reach people, play at center, powerful. He’s smart. He’s going to be calling a lot of protections and doing a lot of things along with Jake [Fromm]. Excited about Deontrey’s attitude and effort. He’s done a lot of good things in the off-season.

On the feelings towards Jake Fromm heading into his third fall camp…

“Well, glad we got him. I mean, Jake’s a good football player. He’s smart and does a lot of good things from a leadership standpoint. He has tremendous energy in meetings and his enthusiasm rubs off on people, his confidence does. Comforting to know you’ve got a guy that has that much experience and that’s a luxury because you don’t always get that in this league.

On the atmosphere of preseason camp and the importance of the team spending time together…

“Training camp is a grind and I think it’s important that it is that way. You create adversity in camp. We practice almost every day with the exception of we have to give them a day off per week. But it’s a grind, and you go to the point of getting exhausted. You go from running 2,000, 3,000 yards a workout in the summer to possibly running 5,000, 6,000 in a practice.

We create adversity with how we practice. The heat creates adversity. Our team will define how they respond to all these situations. You guys may write that it’s based on this guy or that guy but really it’s who we become in camp, what is our level of toughness, effort, commitment, to all of the things we have to be good at. It takes what it takes to be great- so there’s really no choice, no decision. It takes what it takes and it takes hard work, man. It takes beating the heat and that’s what this is about. It’s about finding out who has some grit within him.”

On the advantage, for coaches, of having good leadership in place…

“Well, I would never turn my back on leadership regardless how good our players are as leaders. I think that’s still yet to be did he finds. I’m certainly pleased with where they are right now and we have a lot of guys that care about this team and care about this university. It’s important to them that they have a successful season.

They still have to confront and demand excellence of anybody, but I would never take my attention away from one thing to another, especially in support of leadership. That’s the ethos, all the stuff that goes into our team is way more important than what defense we all what offense we call. It doesn’t matter when it comes to that.”

On the injury update of players on the defensive line…

“Everybody is cleared on the D-Line. Julian [Rochester] is going to be cleared today but we are not in pads. Were we at pads and tackling, he stills had some room to improve there to be in full contact, but all those guys are back, [Michail] Carter, Julian, all the young guys will be out there. Zamir [White], same as last time you asked. He’s doing well. He’s ready to go out and compete. Excited to have him out there. He’s excited to be back. He’s a lot further post-op obviously than a guy like Julian.

On the plan for running back Zamir White once the pads come on…

“Zamir is clear, so again, we’ll do everything like normal. He’ll be thudded, just like every other back will be thudded and we’ll progress from there. We won’t practice live until the first scrimmage.”

On anything that stems from preseason camp last year that you might change in camp this year to end strong…
“Not really. I mean, what we did at the finish of last year is behind us. We are looking forward. We are excited about this year. Thought we had a good camp last year and it’s really important to have a good camp this year.”

On nearly the entire roster being players that he has recruited to the University of Georgia…

“I don’t think it changes much. I don’t look at the guys that weren’t the guys I brought here any different than the ones that I did. I mean, they are part of the University of Georgia program. They adhere to our principles and values, and I love the guys that I inherited as much as the guys that we recruited, so it doesn’t change much in my mind.”

On the asset of Run Game Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Dell McGee to the program…

“Well, he’s a great person for me to lean on. He’s a guy that’s been a head coach at the high school level. He’s done a head coaching short stint there at Georgia Southern, went to the Bowl game. Is very live. Can relate to the players. Is a great recruiter. Very knowledgeable. Making adjustments on the offense. He’s been a huge bonus for me personally and when I’m not here, he’s usually the guy in charge.”

On Demetris Robertson’s change to meet his criteria, physically, since this time last year…

“I don’t know, to meet my criteria — those are your words. Those wouldn’t be my words. He doesn’t have to.

What he has to do is play within our system and play well within our system and play better than the people in front of him and that’s his challenge. That hasn’t changed from that was last year. He still has to play the best three to be the first three out there. To be in the top six and rotate, he’s got to be in the top six and I fully expect him to do that. He did that in the spring.

He did really well. He’s done a lot of good things. There are a lot of things that he can still work on, as all our guys can. But he’s fast. He’s explosive. I think he understands the system a little better and I think he’s probably more prepared for the competition level he’s going against now.”

On if he thinks this is an exciting time for Fain and Billy Slaughter Defensive Coordinator/ Outside Linebackers Coach Dan Lanning with the outside linebacker group…

“Yeah, he [Dan Lanning] has good depth, he had that depth kind of in the spring. The only guy that would be different would be Walter [Grant] where he was working both sides — we’ve got good depth there. I’m excited about that but at the same time, the guys that were there, other than Nolan [Smith] and Jermaine [Johnson] were all there last year and we weren’t as productive as we needed to be at that position.

So we have to improve some production and create some ways for those guys to take advantage of their skill-set which is fast, big, where we’ve got to get rush. The bottom line is, we don’t get the rush, it doesn’t matter what we do.”

On the progression of the wide receivers…
“You know, I haven’t got to see them enough. I see them lift. I see them do conditioning at times. But it’s hard to answer that question without some practice.”

On the blocking and the other fundamentals required to be able to play wide receiver…
“Yeah, I think we’ll find out a lot more about that when we put pads on. Hard to say right now where they are if you’re referencing the three new ones, and [Lawrence] Cager who has done it at a high level but he hasn’t done it with us. They have a chip on their shoulder. You guys continue to call them out. We continue to all them out and that gives them an opportunity to go shine.

I hope the growth happens fast and we need to get the guys touches as much as possible so they can get some confidence, because the biggest thing they are missing is experience.”

On seeing D’Andre Swift make unteachable plays…
“It’s fascinating for all of us, the runs he had at Kentucky. He’s an incredible guy with the ball in his hands. We have to find ways to do that and certainly excited for him to be 100 percent and to play at a high level.”

On the biggest challenge initially for the defensive line…
“Create havoc. That’s the mantra for all of them. No. 1, they have to get on the field. They have to beat people out and they have to compete and we have to be in unbelievable conditioning and shape to be able to play, play after play, at the pace that these offenses play.

But at the end of the day, we’ve got to be productive. We’ve got to cause havoc and we’ve got to tackle for a loss, sacks, ball disruptions and get those things out of the defensive front.”

On Justin Young’s status…

“He’s the product of a program. Very rarely do you find a guy that’s a fifth-year senior that gets better every single year, because what happens is a guy comes out for the Draft, guy transfers, guy plays four years because he didn’t get red-shirted. Jay is a unique guy in that he’s stronger for most of the guys. He’s been in the weight room for five years. He more mature and understands the defensive system. There’s a lot of value in having seniors.

I mean, the best teams I’ve been around have been senior laden, and fewer and fewer college teams have a lot of seniors. But he’s a guy that’s been a product of development and been a part of this program and he gives you consistency and he gives you toughness and that’s something we’re trying to create in our team.”

On the fun and productivity of doing challenges like the “Georgia Olympics”…   

“Yeah, that was two days ago. It would have been illegal. We’re not around to do that (Laughter).

I enjoy those situations, and I think the kids do. They want a chance to compete. They want a chance to have fun and a chance to change things up. As long as they are getting the work a lot of times, difference running around that track and running around that field is not different. Those kids enjoy that and I enjoy watching them compete.”

On the type of progressions will we see from James Cook in preseason camp…
“No. 1, health. He’s got to stay healthy and be able to maintain his health and body weight. He’s explosive. He’s got to learn the offense to the point where he’s comfortable being in the lineup at all positions. We’ve had a lot of packages with him involved last year and some games we didn’t need it, and some games, we did, and he wasn’t able to execute it, but that’s not where he’s at now.

He’s a much more mature individual and we’re excited to see what he can do. We think he’s one of our most explosive players.”

On if they use the way the previous two seasons ended as motivation…

“I don’t think so. I think the biggest thing — how we finish is important, and you learn from that, and you learn from that in the off-season, we learn from the day we get back with those games and we start our workouts and we emphasize dog time, which for us is the fourth quarter all the time.

We’re always looking forward and we’re always looking for an opportunity to put ourselves in a good situation to execute. You learn from your mistakes, but you don’t dwell on them.”

On the growth of Richard LeCounte’s role…

“Yeah, Richard is much wiser. He’s much more coachable. He understands that he’s in pursuit of excellence, not perfection and there’s a difference. I think that as he grows, he can help younger players in that room realize that you’re not going to be perfect, but we are in pursuit of excellence. When a coach asks you something, challenges you, it’s just to help you and he’s now much more receptive of that and I think it’s made him a lot better player.”

On the expectations of Monty Rice…

“Give me all he’s got. I don’t play ‘you’ve got to have 64 tackles, three sacks.’ My expectation is that he leads our defense; that he gives us all he’s got and he competes and he teaches the younger players.”

On the comfort level of a committee playing at linebacker…
“It’s going to depend on how the seperation is. If there’s a lot of separation, you won’t see a package, if there’s not much separation and it becomes an advantage for us to keep a fresh guy out there, then he’ll play more. The bottom line is we want the best players on the field at the right time and if somebody stands out, somebody is exceptional we didn’t have a package when Roquan [Smith] was here, so we’re going to have by committee if it’s dead even.”

On what he’s learned the most heading into his fourth season as a head coach…
“Don’t sweat the little things. At the end of the day, a lot of big things going on. They are a lot more important than the little things and don’t sweat them, and whatever it is, keep moving because it will pass.”

On what those “little things” are…

“I don’t know. There’s a lot of details I still really focus on because I like to and I think it’s important every inch of practice. We only get a limited amount of time on that grass so every inch of that is really important. Outside of that, making sure that your coaches have the freedom to coach and your coaches have their personality impacting their position groups.”

On the expectations of the new players on the defensive line…
“We’ve had them here this summer and haven’t seen them actually go out there and do one-on-ones. That and receivers — I felt like the rest of our team was here in the spring. The new spot is the three wide-outs, four if you include [Lawrence] Cager and the defensive line, Travon [Walker], Bill [Norton], Tymon [Mitchell], Zion [Logue] and those guys have made really big strides in the summer.

But I don’t go out there expecting these guys are going to be better than the veterans we have. We’re going to have to identify quickly who has the potential by week four, five, six, to pass up someone. Because it’s going to be hard for them to do that right away. That’s part of our job is positioning the people that are getting on the bus, the buses, the group that goes to Vanderbilt and putting them in the right seats. We always talk about that, and I’m excited to see Bill, Zion, Tymon and Travon help us. To what extent, I really won’t have good judgment until we get to some practices.”

On how Monty Rice’s stoic two-point personality and feeling like he’s on a mission correlates to how he practices and how he plays…
“It’s the exact same. Monty is a businessman when it comes to that. He’s not cutting up, messing around at practice. He’s very serious about what he does. He’s got a purpose about him. That’s what we knew about him in high school. His high school coaches, were a really good high school program and they said this guy takes it serious. He buys in, he leads, and everything he does there, he’s done for us and we love the way he practices.”

On his feeling about tight end going into camp…
“Hard to answer that question. Probably until we get a couple practices under our belt. [Eli] Wolf has done a tremendous job and put up really good numbers this summer, lifting, running, but we haven’t done it on the grass with he and Brett [Seither]. So we are going to have a good group there, really competitive group. John [Fitzpatrick] has done a good job. It’s going to be interesting to see how that comes out but we’ll find out in a couple practices.

#11 Jake Fromm | Jr. | QB

On wide receiver group… 

“The guys are ready to step up. They are ready to go out and make plays. It will be exciting to see what guys make certain plays this afternoon for our first practice. The freshmen are good football players. They are excited and just ready to figure stuff out in camp. Today will be kind of fast for them, it being their first practice. It was fast for me too. Hopefully we will get them lined up and running the right routes. We’ll see this afternoon.”

On camp … 

“It is about coming together. It is about being mentally and physically tough. That’s what we want to be. We want to be a tough, physical, disciplined football team. That is when you figure out your identity of the football team. That is what we are trying to figure out.”

On coming in more as a veteran … 

“I’m a lot more comfortable. There is a smoother transition going into things of what to expect, what not to expect, how practice is going to be ran, and the offense. There is a lot of things to be comfortable with and a lot of things that I have to push myself to do great and be a leader in. There are new things for me and we are excited for it and ready to practice.”

On D’Andre Swift… 

“He is a great football player. Anytime we have him healthy – he’s ready to go today – he has all kinds of moves and brings great things to the team.”

#32 Monty Rice | Jr. | ILB

On depth at linebacker… 

“It is very important to have depth. We have Jermaine [Johnson], Walter [Grant], Azeez [Ojulari], Adam [Anderson]. We have a bunch of different dudes that can do a bunch of different things. It is always great, because for our third down packages if we need this kind of guy to do what Lorenzo [Carter] used to do and spot the quarterback then that is an Adam [Anderson] type thing, but really all of them can do it. We have some elite guys this year.”

On personal expectations and development… 

“Play fast, play hard, and no silly mistakes that I would have made last year as a sophomore…I’m a lot better as far as playbook. I know the ins and outs of it more so than last year.”

On team conditioning emphasis this summer… 

“Oh yeah, that has always been an emphasis since I’ve been here. We had more guys stay up while we were doing it and we had less guys that were overweight. That is always a good thing especially when these SEC games are battles and you have to outlast your opponent.”

#7 D’Andre Swift | Jr. | RB

On what will be the identity of UGA’s offense this season/the type of offense…

“We’ve got to be physical, first and foremost. There are a lot of guys that can do great things with the ball in their hands, and we’ve got one of the best offenses in the nation…We want to be balanced. We want to run the ball and catch the ball. We want to do as much as we can do so we can be good at both sides.”

On the expectations of this year’s team…

“Honestly, the sky is the limit for us. We’ll be as good as we want to be. Like I said, we’ve got a great group of guys here. We’ll find out a lot, and I can’t wait.”

On how difficult it’s been to put last season/its outcome aside to focus on the 2019-20 season… 

“Not hard at all. New season, people. So, I’m going to focus on 2019 Georgia. We’ve got a great team and a great group of guys here. Everything I’ve seen has been real great, so I feel we’re on the right path.”

#98 Rodrigo Blankenship | Sr. | PK

On what the team motto “Do More” means to a kicker in the offseason…

“Well, doing more doesn’t just apply to working on the field, doing more applies to everything that we do. It can apply to kicking and you can go out and maybe try and get a couple extra reps in and make sure that we’re sharp and crisp, but can also apply to the weight room, get a few extra reps and in the weight room, stay afterwards, get some stretching time with the coaches do some work to try and maybe get more explosive and more flexible, things like that. It could be do more stuff to take care of your body, spend a little bit more time in the training room, trying to make sure that your body is healthy and ready to go. And it means doing more in the classroom, make sure that you do everything that you can to pass your classes and make sure that you’re eligible and good to go for the season.”

On the routine of the summer and preparing for the upcoming season…

“Over the summer, just wake up, come to Butts-Mehre, eat some breakfast, spend a little time in the training room, like I said earlier, just take care of your body, make sure you’re healthy, good to go. Workout, eat lunch, go home, do some homework, come back to Butts-Mehre, have some meetings with the coaches if it’s the day for meetings. Seven-on-seven with the team if it’s the day for that. Team runs in there, of course. Then after that go home, eat dinner, homework, and then wake up and rinse and repeat the next day.”

On how camp has changed since his first camp in 2015…

“I think it’s been really special just to kind of see how the program has changed over the last few years. I was actually going back through some film earlier today and looked back at my first camp here and at the time I was punting as well, so just goes to show you kind of how much things have changed. Camp that year was 23 days and we had 22 practices so it was grueling. Now we’re down to I think, eight or 10 practices, something like that, in 11 days, so it’s definitely been cool to see how it’s changed.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement
Advertisement

2019 UGA Football Tickets

Advertisement

More in UGA Football